NWS Client Sharon on Her Trip Following the Great Migrations of the N.W. Passage

Sharon Cole

12 Jul 2018

NWS client Sharon gives us a comprehensive overview of her trip to the Arctic (packing tips included)!

Our Arctic trip was magical. 

We flew from Detroit to Ottawa and spent a night at an airport hotel, where our winter clothes package was waiting for us at the desk. After trying everything on, we decided it was all the right size, but if it wasn’t, we later learned from a fellow traveller that it was a snap to exchange the size at the airport. 

Our trip began the next morning when we flew to Iqaluit on First Air. There is no first class but it was very comfortable and at this point we were with 13 members of our 14-person group. We then got on a small plane and went on to Arctic Bay. 


Our accommodation 

When we landed in Arctic Bay, we were all picked up in the town school bus. It was now the start of 24 hours of daylight, which I loved. We went to a small inn for the night and were well cared for – this was the end of Internet and creature comforts. 

The next morning we got back on the bus and went to the ice. We traveled for four hours to get to our camp on sleds pulled by snowmobiles. It was a slightly bumpy ride but we found it exciting. Once we got to camp, our accommodation was amazing (for the Arctic): two people to a cabin, one heater and two cot beds. We all shared a bathhouse which had two toilets and showers. 

There was a dining tent where we had three meals of amazing food (from speciality cooks) a day. Not all our meals were at the base though as lunch usually went with us to the floe edge.

The Wildlife

The first day we didn’t have enough time to go to the floe edge, but each day after we made it. You really can’t count on making it every day because ice is unpredictable, but we were so lucky here. Every day we saw whales which is what we all wanted. We saw mostly belugas until the last day when we had a grand show of at least 50 narwhals and beluga swimming right by us, going under and back out from the ice edge as well as mothers with their babies.  

We saw a few bears and we also saw some beluga whales nipping at a swimming polar bear. The birds were nice and luckily we had an expert birder on our trip as well as our guides, who were very knowledgeable, but I wish I had studied Arctic birds before I went. Your sense of space and time are so different here – in fact one day we got back to camp at 4:30am, but with the 24-hour sun you can’t tell. The trip is all run around nature and the weather. 

What to take

It was 25 degrees Fahrenheit each day but it felt warm. We mostly stayed bundled up in warm clothes. We wore our hiking boots and used them until our snowmobile trip started, but we then used our winter boots for the rest of the trip. Whilst I only used foot and hand warmers a few days, they are nice to have just in case. We didn’t use shower shoes but you must have slippers or Crocs to wear in your tent and the dining tent. One poor fellow didn’t have any and his socks were always getting wet!

I had my Ugg slippers which were very nice but since we usually had thick socks on, I wish I had ankle slippers so they were a little bigger. I had about five pairs of heavy wool socks but on my last trip for supplies I got several packs of thin Cuddl Dud socks which I loved. On cold days I would layer them up, so make sure your boots have plenty of room for this. For pants I wore about three layers under my snow pants just to keep warm, and the same with tops.

The winter clothes package is in a duffel bag which counts as one of your checked luggage bags, but you really don’t need that much for your other suitcase. Just make sure you’ve got base layers and fleeces. You’ll have plenty of room for your camera gear in your case too. As we aren’t photographers, we just used our phones, but I wish I had brought a spotting scope, and binoculars are a must – do not forget them!

This is an amazing trip. It’s not for everyone and it’s unpredictable, but our group was amazing. Everyone held on to every second. 

I loved the quiet. I loved the expansiveness. In the end, at the very last hour, the narwhals swelled up for us and put on a show.  We will love them forever for that.

BOOK YOUR ARCTIC CANADA SAFARI

Contact our destination specialist to start planning your journey.

Contact Us

Add your comment

You are being redirected. Click here if this takes longer than a few seconds.